REAL consists of a group of researchers united by a common interest in understanding specific linguistic and educational challenges faced by children who are being educated in a language (i.e., English) that is not their home language.

There is a real urgency to better understand the specific issues faced by EAL children in the UK since the number of EAL children in English primary schools is growing each year.  For example, in 2012 nearly 18% of primary school children had a home language that was not English.  Not only is this a significant proportion of children, but it is also growing each year.  Surprisingly, despite the fact that there is a relatively large proportion of EAL children within English schools, not much systematic research has been focused on trying to better understand their language and cognitive/educational development. To that end, our group is currently working on projects investigating different factors believed to influence their language and literacy skills.

This website primarily aims to give you more detailed information about who we are and the kind of projects that we are involved with. We are keen to establish a more collaborative relationship with other researchers (including students) and teachers and practitioners with an interest in the linguistic and literacy development of children with EAL. We do not want to carry out our research in an  ‘ivory tower’ that is of little relevance and use to the teachers and practitioners actually working with children with EAL. Rather, we want to work towards establishing and developing a research agenda that ensures that the research we do together will have a real impact and value to both those professionals who work with children with EAL and also importantly, to the children themselves. We hope you find this website both informative and interesting.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any comments or queries.


  • Murphy, V.A. & Franco, D. (2016). Phonics instruction and children with English as an additional language.  EAL Journal
  • Murphy, V.A. & Unthiah, A. (2015). A systematic review of intervention research examining English language and literacy development in children with English as an Additional Language (EAL). London:  Education Endowment Foundation
  • Smith, S.S. & Murphy, V.A. (2015). Measuring productive elements of multi-word phrase vocabulary knowledge among children with English as an additional or only language. Reading and Writing28(3), 347-369.
  • Murphy, V.A. & Evangelou, M. (Eds) (2016). Early Childhood Education in English for Speakers of other Languages. London:  British Council
  • Murphy, V.A. (2014).  Second Language Learning in the Early School Years:  Trends and Contexts.  Oxford:  Oxford University PressHayashi, Y. & Murphy, V.A. (2013). On the nature of morphological awareness in Japanese-English bilingual children: A cross-linguistic perspective. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 16(1), 49-67.
  • Hayashi, Y. & Murphy, V.A. (2011). An investigation of morphological awareness in Japanese learners of English. Language Learning Journal, 39, 105-120.
  • Martinez, R. & Murphy, V.A. (2011). The effect of frequency and idiomaticity on second language reading comprehension. TESOL Quarterly, 45, pp. 267-290
  • McKendry, M. & Murphy, V.A. (2011). A comparative study of listening comprehension measures in English as an additional language and native English-speaking primary school children. Evaluation and Research in Education, 24, 17 – 40.
  • Zhou, X., Murphy, V.A. (2011). How English L2 learners in China perceive and interpret novel English compounds. Asian EFL Journal, 13(1), 327-355.
  • Lo, Y.Y. & Murphy, V.A. (2010). Vocabulary knowledge and growth in Immersion and Regular Language Learning Programmes in Hong Kong. Language and Education, 24, 215-238.
  • Murphy, V.A. & Hayes, J.A. (2010). Processing English compounds in the first and second language: The influence of the middle morpheme. Language Learning, 60(1), 194-220



NALDIC (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum)
Provides a host of information and resources which are specifically relevant to EAL.

Provides details of a strategy, commissioned by the Training and Development Agency, for the development of the EAL workforce in schools.

Collaborative Learning
A teacher network promoting inclusive education. The website offers many downloadable resources and teaching activities which are EAL pupil friendly to promote talk in the classroom.

Schools Online
International website which assists schools in forming creative partnerships worldwide. The website is supported by The British Council and the DfES.

Languages without limits
Links to a plethora of sources of support for teachers and parents of children who speak EAL.

Intervention/ Educational Software:

Reading Recovery
Provides an outline of the Reading Recovery intervention including the aims of the programme; how to register for various Reading Recovery training and teaching positions; advice for parents with a child who struggles to read; latest research and news, and further information for schools and teachers.

Educational software which supports children’s sentence building, suitable for Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Post-16 pupils.

Oxford Reading Tree Talking Stories
Aim to support individual reading development and reading skills through the use of ICT.

Enchanted Learning
Offers downloadable activity sheets in seven languages. These are particularly good for the EAL beginner pupil.

Provides details of a programme developed in the USA to enhance the academic vocabulary of Grade 6-8 children (UK Year 7-9).

Relevant Literature:

  • Biemiller, A. (2005) ‘Size and sequence in vocabulary development: Implications for choosing words for primary grade instruction.’ In A. Hiebert & M. Kamil (eds.) Teaching and Learning Vocabulary: Bringing Research to Practice, Mahwah, N.J., Erlbaum, 223-242.
  • Biemiller, A. (2006) ‘Vocabulary development and instruction: A prerequisite for school learning’ in D.K. Dickinson & S.B. Neuman (eds.) Handbook of Early Literacy Research: Volume 2, New York, The Guilford Press, 41-51.
  • Biemiller, A. & Boote, C. (2006) ‘An effective method for building meaning vocabulary in primary grades.’ Journal of Educational Psychology, 98 (1), 44-62.
  • Burgoyne, K., Kelly, J., Whiteley, H. & Spooner, A. (2009) ‘The comprehension skills of children learning English as an additional language’ The British Psychological Society, 79, 735-747.
  • Cunningham, A.E. & Stanovich, K.E. (1997) ‘Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience 10 years later.’ Developmental Psychology, 33, 934-945.
  • Cutting, L.E. & Scarborough, H.S. (2006) ‘Prediction of reading comprehension: Relative contributions of word recognition, language proficiency, and other cognitive skills can depend on how comprehension is measured’ Scientific Studies of Reading, 10 (3), 277-299.
  • Gregory, E. (1996) Making Sense of a New World: Learning to Read in a Second Language, London, Paul Chapman Publishing.
  • Hart, B. & Risley, T.R. (1995) Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, Baltimore, Brookes.
  • Hoff, E. (2006) ‘Environmental supports for language acquisition.’ in D.K. Dickinson & S.B. Neuman (eds.) Handbook of Early Literacy Research: Volume 2, New York, The Guilford Press, 163-172.
  • Hoff, E. (2003) ‘Causes and consequences of SES-related differences in parent-to-child speech. In M.H. Bornstein & R.H. Bradley (eds.) Socioeconomic status, parenting and child development, Mahwah, NJ, Erlbaum.
  • Hoff. E. & Naigles, L. (2002) ‘How children use input in acquiring a lexicon.’ Child Development, 73, 418-433.
  • Hutchinson, J.M., Whiteley, H.E., Smith, C.D., & Connors, L. (2003) ‘The developmental progression of comprehension-related skills in children learning EAL’ Journal of Research in Reading, 26 (1), 19-32.
  • Jean, M. & Geva, E. (2009) ‘The development of vocabulary in English as a second language children and its role in predicting word recognition ability.’ Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 153-185.
  • Lesaux, N.K., Geva, E., Koda, K., Siegel, L.S. & Shanahan, T. ‘Development of literacy in second-language learners’ in D.August & T. Shanahan (2008) Developing Reading and Writing in Second-Language Learners: Lessons from the Report of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, New York, Routledge, 27-59.
  • Lesaux, N.K., Lipka, O. & Siegel, L.S. (2006) ‘The development of reading in children who speak English as a second language.’ Developmental Psychology, 39 (6), 1005-1019.
  • Lesaux, N.K., Rupp, A.A. & Siegel, L.S. (2007) ‘Growth in reading skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds: Findings from a 5-year longitudinal study.’ Journal of Educational Psychology 99 (4), 821-834.
  • Lipka, O. & Siegel, L.S. (2007) ‘The development of reading skills in children with English as a second language.’ Scientific Studies of Reading, 11 (2), 105-131.
  • Nakamoto, J., Lindsey, K.A. & Manis, F.R. (2007) ‘A longitudinal analysis of English language learners’ word decoding and reading comprehension.’ Reading and Writing, 20, 691-719.
  • Nation, K. (2005) ‘Children’s reading comprehension difficulties.’ In M.J. Snowling & C. Hulme (eds.) The Science of Reading: A Handbook, Oxford, Blackwell Publishing, 248-265.
  • Nation, K. & Snowling, M.J. (2004) ‘Beyond phonological skills: broader language skills contribute to the development of reading.’ Journal of Research in Reading, 27 (4), 342-356.
  • Penno, J.F., Wilkinson, I.A.G. & Moore, D. (2002) ‘Vocabulary acquisition from teacher explanation and repeated listening to stories: Do they overcome the Matthew effect?’ Journal of Educational Psychology, 94 (1), 23-33.
  • Proctor, P.C, August, D., Carlo, M. & Snow, C. (2005) ‘Native Spanish-speaking children reading in English: Toward a model of comprehension.’ Journal of Educational Psychology, 97 (2), 246-256.
  • Senechal, M., Ouellette, G. & Rodney, D. (2006) ‘The misunderstood giant: On the predictive role of early vocabulary to future reading.’ in D.K. Dickinson & S.B. Neuman (eds.) Handbook of Early Literacy Research: Volume 2, New York, The Guilford Press, 173-182.
  • Senechal, M (2006) ‘Testing the Home Literacy Model: Parent involvement in kindergarten is differentially related to Grade 4 reading comprehension, fluency, spelling and reading for pleasure’, Scientific Studies of Reading, 10 (1), 59-87.


Convenor: Professor Victoria Murphy
email: victoria.murphy@education.ox.ac.uk

Research Staff: Professor Kathy Sylva, Fiona Jelley, Sophie Turnball

DPhil Students: Mae Zantout, Anna Niedbala, Annina Hessel, Xi Lian, Hamish Chalmers, Faidra Faitaki, Samuel Tsang, Bai Li

Masters Students: Samantha Brehm, Jasen Booton, Gemma Keeling, Justyna Legutko, Qiu Liu. Wai Hin Tai,Shawna-Kaye Tucker